By Dave Sutton
The millennial generation is an 80-million-strong group born between 1982 and 2000, and it already exceeds the baby boomers in size and influence. Now the largest generation in the workforce, millennials have changed how companies do business, develop products, and go-to-market.
More importantly, they’re still changing how companies engage with consumers. This generation above all others is not afraid to tell the world exactly how they feel about a product or service, and they have plenty of platforms to choose from: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Tumblr, etc.
So just how do you engage millennials in a meaningful way? Well, by learning about them. By becoming relevant to their lives, maintaining authenticity—and by speaking their language.
Turns out, however, that mastering “millennial speak” may not be so easy for those of us from the salt-and-pepper generations—people born before 1979 with some gray in our hair. In our day, we said “booyah” and “she’s the bomb”—phrases so out of date and mortifying to millennials that it makes their blood run cold. But if you’re over 40 today, you’ve probably never even heard of most of the new terms, like “stan”, “bae,” “trill,” “hundo P,” or “on fleek.” (I asked my millennial son about “on fleek”—and he seemed to say they don’t much use this one anymore. Always pays to stay current!) Suffice it to say that if we want to talk to millennials on their own terms, and truly decipher what they’re saying and stay relevant, then we have to do a bit better all around. Although that, of course, does not mean you should memorize vocabulary lists (although knowing current terms can occasionally help) that will quickly go out of date in a few years anyway.
That said, there are some universal truths in the best ways to connect with the millennial generation. In his excellent October 2015 HBR article, friend of TopRight and former colleague Brad Power highlighted the 3 Ways Big Companies Are Connecting with Younger Consumers:
- Start Conversations, Stop Selling Products
Understanding Millennials is a significant challenge for the financial services industry, especially when 71% of Millennials say they’d rather go to a dentist than listen to a banker’s advice. How can a company understand a consumer that won’t engage?
This led MassMutual to make a risky shift from selling products to starting conversations. The company opened Society of Grownups, a storefront that integrates financial literacy sessions, like “How to Buy a Home,” with classes on travel and wine. The entire staff was hired externally and brought in from outside of MassMutual. Many of the classes have been sold out, but MassMutual realizes it still has a long way to go to meet millennials on “their true home ground.”
“We have been successful in starting to understand this generation and their needs, but we have the humility to realize we have a lot more to do.”
~ Nondini Naqui, CEO Society of Grownups
- Make the Startup Hookup
Marriott is learning about millennials by working with local startups. Once the …read more
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